The clash at the Schwarzwald-Stadion Sunday was one of great importance for the home side. Searching for their first win of the Bundesliga season, Freiburg have been struggling so far this season. Limited to only two goals, the home side were hoping that their clash against Hoffenheim would signal a change in their season heading into the international break.
Chrisitan Streich vs Julian Nagelsmann, the scene was set in the Black Forest. The whistle blew and both set out on the front foot. The first opportunity fell to Hoffenheim who went on the break, but with the strength of Freiburg in defence the attack was stopped. Responding immediately, the home side set out on the attack down the left, only for the Hoffenheim defence to suppressthe attack. The active start to the game continued. A corner for Freiburg resulted in a header being flicked on to Florian Niederlechner whose effort went wide. Evenly matched in the opening stages, both teams were pressing, trying to get the ball. Despite the close nature of the game, the away side we rewarded first. Intercepting the ball from a Freiburg goal kick, the away side went on the front foot, catching Freiburg out of position. Sandro Wagner provided the perfect ball to Robin Hack who got past the off-guard Freiburg defence. Through on goal, Hack had the job of putting the ball in the back of the net. He did just that.
A response was needed from the home side. Christian Streich’s men couldn’t have responded any better. Immediately after Hack’s goal, Freiburg went on the attack. Going down the left, Chrisitan Günter passed to Janik Haberer, putting the Freiburg attack in the opponent’s box. Finding Niederlechner in the box, Haberer provided an accurate pass, leaving the Freiburg attacker to cut in and take the ball past the Hoffenheim defence. One of Freiburg’s few goal scorers this season, Niederlechner made sure to put the ball in the back of the net. Minutes later Freiburg responded further. Delivered into the box from Julian Schuster, the ball found Nicolas Hofler who flicked it on to the head of Çağlar Söyüncü . A promising player in defence for Freiburg, the youngTurk hit the ball with force putting into the back of the net. It was a perfect response from the home side. In the space of a few minutes they were in the lead 2-1.
The game was changing and it was in favour of the team from the Black Forest. Struggling to build up play, Hoffenheim looked a shadow of what they can be. The structure of Freiburg was proving a difficult task to breakdown. Closing down the ball, applying pressure, the home side were on the front foot. As time progressed so did Freiburg’s advantage. Hoffenheim weren’t given a chance to breathe or rest, Freiburg were always applying the pressure. Full of confidence after their two goals, the home side were closing down Nagelsmann’s men. The away side were struggling to play through and use midfield, often having to resort to long balls. Swarmed by red shirts,undefeated Hoffenheim were struggling. Limited in space and the ability to create opportunities, half time was a necessary respite for Julian Nagelsmann and company.
A team talk was needed for the visitors and Nagelsmann must have given them a strong one. As the whistle for the second half, Hoffe looked much better compared to the first. The Europa League side were finding and applying intensity that had been limited previously. Chance were soon falling to the away side, a shot saved from Sandro Wagner and an attempt from a corner going wide. Rejuvenated in the second half, Hoffe were getting back into the game. The away side’s improvement resulted in pressure being applied on Freiburg. But Freiburg”s defence continued to be tough to break down.
Despite the increase in attack, Streich’s men were able to deal with the situation. Streich’s men weren’t stopping, chances were coming, although they were limited in the second half. Taking advantage of their set pieces, Freiburg had a very close opportunity to score from a corner after Oliver Baumann made a save on the line, which was part of the narrative of the game for Hoffenheim — struggling to deal with Freiburg’s set pieces. The intensity was on the rise and so were Hoffenheim. Nagelsmann’s men were getting closer to a goal but were just lacking the clinical ability needed to bring the game level. Still searching for the second goal, Hoffenheim continued their attacks. Several opportunities came with Alexander Schwolow being forced into a number of saves. When pressing, the home side weren’t as tight as they were in the first 45 minutes, resulting in Hoffenheim finding space and having the ability to create opportunities. The home side punished Hoffenheim for not being more clinical in front of goal. Finding themselves in space, Nils Petersen slotted a pass to Pascal Stenzel. In space, Stenzel , the former Dortmund man, carried the ball in the box, unleashing a shot that would put Freiburg in a position tome come away with three points. The away side were giving a lifeline in the closing stages of the game after a Schuster own goal. Despite that, Streich’s side came away as the victors, with Freiburg earning their first win of the Bundesliga season.
Robin Hack’s Goal – Hack’s goal completely changed the game. Many teams become demoralised when the opponent scores, this didn’t apply to Freiburg who responded perfectly. Immediately after 19 year-old’s debut Bundesliga goal, Freiburg responded with their goal from Niederlechner. Minutes later they got a second from a Söyüncü’s header. From there the home side were full of confidence and were pressing and closing down the ball. Freiburg’s solid defence was able to deal with whatever Hoffenheim threw at them. The first half was especially an impressive performance from Freiburg who got their first win of the Bundesliga season against Hoffenheim.
Man of the Match
Çağlar Söyüncü (goal, 86% passing, 3 blocked shots)
- Freiburg – 42.8%
- Hoffenheim – 57.2%
- Freiburg – 15
- Hoffenheim – 16
- Freiburg – 11
- Hoffenheim – 11
Talking Points Freiburg
- Pressure – One thing that stood out in Freiburg’s performance was pressure. Especially in the first half, Freiburg were continuously applying pressure on Hoffenheim. As a result, the away side struggled going forward and creating opportunities. Limited in space, Hoffenheim commonly resorted to long balls in order provide a worthy attack. Hoffenheim were limited to only two shots and two chances created in the first half.
- Defence – The Freiburg defence proved difficult for Hoffenheim to breakdown. The unity and strength at the back is something that Freiburg walk away with their heads held high after their performance against Hoffenheim. A man of the match performance from Söyüncü, a player who is turning into solid player at the back.
- Creativity – In previous game sFreiburg have been lacking creativity going forward. Struggling to create chances and score goals, Freiburg would be hoping that would change against Hoffenheim. It did. Their performance against Hoffenheim saw a total of 15 shots and 11 chances created. This performance is something they can build on and hope to apply in many of their future games. A positive attacking performance from Freiburg.
Talking Points Hoffenheim
- First Half – Despite scoring the first goal, Hoffenheim struggled in the first half. Freiburg’s pressure and tightness on the pitch was difficult to breakdown. Hoffenheim were left with limited space going forward. Chances were at a minimum in the first half, with only two shots and tow chances created. Much of the first half Hoffenheim were on the back foot. Pressed back in their own half, Freiburg were able to work their magic.
- Second Half – Nagelsmann must delivered a fiery team talk at half time because Hoffenheim looked much improved in the second half. Raising the intensity and seeing more space, Hoffenheim were seeing more chances fall to them. As a result of Freiburg’s pressure not being tight and like it was in the first half, Hoffenheim were able to find and exploit space going forward, something they hadn’t seen in the first half. Hoffenheim had 12 shots and created seven chances in the second half.
- Clinical – Despite the better performance in the second half, Hoffenheim were lacking the quality and technique they needed going forward. With that quality and technique, Hoffenheim weren’t able to make the most of their uptick of chances in front of goal in the second half. With a total of 12 shots in the second half, Hoffenheim were hoping they would have come away with a goal or two. They had to rely on a Julian Schuster own goal in the second half to give themselves a lifeline. Nagelsmann will be frustrated with his team’s performance.
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